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Toxic rice wine kills 10, hospitalises 50 in Cambodia
[PHNOM PENH] Home-brewed toxic rice wine is believed to have killed 10 people and hospitalised 50 others from a Cambodian village in recent weeks, officials said Thursday.
Residents started falling ill after drinking the traditional sprit at a series of funerals in a village in central Kampong Chhnang province, according to the director of the local hospital.
"From (late) November until now, 10 people have died and around 50 have come here to get treatment," said Sorin Ravuthy.
The ceremonial drink is a staple at Cambodian festivals, funerals and weddings.
But it can be deadly if brewed improperly with methanol.
The province's deputy police chief Ly Virak said authorities believed tainted wine was responsible for the recent wave of deaths.
"Yes, it was rice wine poisoning, but we have not yet received all the details," he told AFP.
Deaths from bad batches of rice wine - which is cheap and often locally brewed - are fairly common in Cambodia, a poor country with lax health and safety standards.
One year ago at least 19 people were killed and 200 hospitalised in northeast Cambodia after drinking wine with toxic levels of methanol.